Skip to main content

Methadone Overdose Deaths

Volume 404: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2003

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research his Department has (a) commissioned into the number of methadone overdose deaths in the UK in the last 12 months for which figures are available and (b) evaluated on the role of methadone supervision in reducing overdose deaths. [110598]

The Office for National Statistics maintains a database that contains information on deaths from drug-related poisonings for each year since 1993.In 2001, the last year for which figures are available, there were 207 deaths where methadone was mentioned on the death certificate. It should be noted that where more than one drug is mentioned on the death certificate, it is not always possible to tell which of them was primarily responsible for the death.Comprehensive reviews of the effectiveness of methadone have been provided by several authors (Hall et al., 1998, Farrell et al., 1994, Bertschy 1995, Marsch, 1998). Most of those studies demonstrating the effectiveness of methadone are of on-going maintenance treatment but the evidence generally becomes weaker as the duration of treatment shortens, with little systematic evidence to support short-term detoxification. Specific studies include Fontain & Ansseau, 1995, Glass, 1993 and Gossop, M. et al., 2001. High quality medical and psychosocial services, a clear orientation towards social rehabilitation, treatment longevity and slow detoxification of well-stabilised patients have all been identified as giving the best outcomes, including reducing overdose deaths.